Sent: February 19, 2002
Subject: The Cheerful Side of Discipline?
Dear Ethan & Emily:
Yesterday, we saw that a healthy “fear of God” can work in our lives to keep us from sinning. I can say a hearty “Amen” to that! There have been times over the years when I was tempted to do something I knew was wrong, and the longer I considered the options usually the weaker I became. But one of the factors that sometimes came to mind during these times was what God’s reaction would be. Sometimes we sin almost by accident but usually our sins follow a conscious decision on our part…they are “deliberate.”
My prayer is that of the Psalmist: “Keep me from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin” (Ps. 19:13). May that prayer also be yours.
When we sin, we “grieve” the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), and God reacts as a loving parent to bring us back to a place of blessing. “So you should realize that just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you to help you” (Deut.8:5).
Do you remember those famous words that most all parents say before disciplining their children: “Now, this hurts me more than it does you.” “Yea…sure,” you probably uttered, but actually it is so true. No loving parent wants to discipline or inflict any pain to anyone they love, but often this is the only way to demonstrate the serious consequences of some behavior and it IS a “loving” response!
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Rev. 3:19).
Actually, you should feel blessed when you experience chastening from the Lord for some sin or sins…as this vividly demonstrates that God loves you and counts you as His own. “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you” (Prov. 3:11).
What should be our response when we are disciplined by God? I pray that we will have the positive attitude enunciated by Isaiah: “Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You have restored my health and have allowed me to live! Yes, it was good for me to suffer this anguish, for you have rescued me from death and have forgiven all my sins” (Isaiah 38:16).
Godly discipline comes in many forms. Sometimes “…God disciplines people with sickness and pain” (Job 33:19), sometimes He uses a variety of other actions to get our attention, but sometimes He has to use the ultimate discipline: “…there is a sin that leads to death” (1 John 5:16-17).
Yes, God intends discipline to be a good thing and to ensure that we live an abundant, happy, and blessed life. He actually means for this activity to be an “encouragement” to us: “And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, His children. He said, ‘My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes those He accepts as His children'” (Hebrews 12:5-6).
“As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined? If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children after all. Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in His holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Heb. 12:7-11).
But perhaps the most significant thing that results from changed behavior on our part is that we model righteous living to others and keep them from falling. The following statement follows directly the above passage on discipline: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet (make a conscious and determined decision to live for the Lord). Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong” (Heb. 12:12-13).
As parents, as friends…others are watching what we do…and what we do…affects the lives and consequences of everyone around us.
I would like for you to have a “discipline-free” life wholly dedicated to following and serving our Lord. But if…and when discipline…comes your way, learn from it. May you even be “cheerful” as you realize God’s love for you and that you can use everything that comes your way to be a blessing to others.
Have a great and “cheerful” day. I love you.